Background and Objectives: To address the unique characteristics of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) that complicate end-of-life (EOL), we created, refined, and validated a dementia-focused EOL planning instrument for use by healthy adults, those with early-stage dementia, family caregivers, and clinicians to document EOL care preferences and values within the current or future context of cognitive impairment.
Research Design and Methods: A mixed-method design with four phases guided the development and refinement of the instrument: (1) focus groups with early-stage ADRD and family caregivers developed and confirmed the tool content and comprehensiveness; (2) evaluation by content experts verified its utility in clinical practice; (3) a sample of healthy older adults (n = 153) and adults with early-stage ADRD (n = 38) completed the tool, whose quantitative data were used to describe the psychometrics of the instrument; and (4) focus groups with healthy older adults, family caregivers, and adults with early-stage ADRD informed how the guide should be used by families and in clinical practice.
Results: Qualitative data supported the utility and feasibility of a dementia-focused EOL planning tool; the six scales have high internal consistency (a = 0.66–0.89) and high test–rest reliability (r = .60–.90). On average, both participant groups reported relatively high concern for being a burden to their families, a greater preference for quality over length of life, a desire for collaborative decision-making process, limited interest in pursuing life-prolonging measures, and were mixed in their preference to control the timing of their death. Across disease progression, preferences for location of care changed, whereas preferences for prolonging life remained stable.
Discussion and Implications: The LEAD Guide (Life-Planning in Early Alzheimer's and Dementia) has the potential to facilitate discussion and documentation of EOL values and care preferences prior to loss of decisional capacity, and has utility for healthy adults, patients, families, providers, and researchers.
There is a paucity of data regarding the utilization of palliative care consultation (PCC) in surgical specialties. We conducted a retrospective review of 2321 adult patients (age =18) who died within 6 months of admission to Boston Medical Center from 2012 to 2017. Patients were included for analysis if their length of stay was more than 48 hours and if, based on their diagnoses as determined by literature review and expert consensus, they would have benefited from PCC. Bayesian regression was used to estimate the odds ratio (OR) and 99% credible intervals (CrI) of receiving PCC adjusted for age, sex, race, insurance status, median income, and comorbidity status. Among the 739 patients who fit the inclusion criteria, only 30% (n = 222) received PCC even though 664 (90%) and 75 (10%) of these patients were identified as warranting PCC on medical and surgical services, respectively. Of the 222 patients who received PCC, 214 (96%) were cared for by medical services and 8 (4%) were cared for by surgical services. Patients cared for primarily by surgical were significantly less likely to receive PCC than primary patients of medical service providers (OR, 0.19, 99% CrI, 0.056-0.48). At our institution, many surgical patients appropriate for PCC are unable to benefit from this service due to low consultation numbers. Further investigation is warranted to examine if this phenomenon is observed at other institutions, elucidate the reasons for this disparity, and develop interventions to increase the appropriate use of PCC throughout all medical specialties.
The experience of parental death concomitant with parental divorce occurs for 46% of Danish children and 50% of American children who lose a parent to death. This experience of loss and double bereavement compounds increased risk of mental health problems. The aim of this study was to explore nursing interventions for double bereaved children that promoted their well-being. A phenomenological-hermeneutic approach was used to conduct 20 interviews with nurses in family cancer care. Ricoeur's theoretical framework was followed with naïve reading, structural analysis, and critical interpretation, resulting in the formulation of a new model of nursing care for these children: the Divorced Family-Focused Care Model. Four themes were apparent: (a) collection of information about family structure, (b) assessment of support needs, (c) initiation of well-being support, and (d) coordination and follow-up focused on the child's well-being. The new intervention model has implications for health care education and implementation of health care policies.
Background: Project ECHO™ (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a form of online interactive teaching, which has gained international traction. This project evaluates the effectiveness of an ECHO-delivered palliative care education program for the South Dublin region of Ireland. Our aim was to measure project success by quantifying gains in staff confidence.
Methods: The educational program consisted of 10 interactive sessions over a five-month period on palliative care topics ranging from pain management to advance care planning. Twenty nursing homes took part in the education program. Of these, a subgroup of six nursing homes were randomly selected for assessment. Likert scale-based questionnaires assessed staff confidence before and after each lecture and assessment was repeated at least six weeks postlecture. Five of the 10 sessions were assessed in this way. Other characteristics such as staff role and years of experience were also collected.
Results: Twenty nursing homes and 353 staff participated in the education sessions. Of the 6 nursing homes chosen for assessment, an average of 42 questionnaires were returned per session (n = 211), representing 83% of attendees at these 6 selected nursing homes. Seventy-seven percent of questionnaires were successfully followed up for six weeks. Average confidence increased by 27% pre- to postlecture (6.4 [SD = 1.4] to 8.1 [SD = 2.1], p < 0.005). Confidence gains persisted at six weeks; 8.1 of 10 (SD = 1.4), with no significant drop-off (-0.01/10, p = 0.95). All staff groups (nursing vs. non-nursing) exhibited equal confidence gains (nursing gain of 27%, non-nursing gain 22%, p = 0.16), and all confidence gains persisted at six weeks.
Conclusion: This interactive, novel, training program significantly improved nursing home staff confidence in managing palliative care situations, and this confidence was sustained at least six weeks after the sessions.
OBJECTIVES: Research indicates that the increasing population of over 25 million people in the United States who have limited English proficiency experience differences in decision-making and subsequent care at end of life in the ICU when compared with the general population. The objective of this study was to assess the perceptions of healthcare team members about the factors that influence discussions and decision-making about end of life for patients and family members with limited English proficiency in the ICU.
DESIGN: Qualitative study using semistructured interviews with ICU physicians, nurses, and interpreters.
SETTING: Three ICUs at Mayo Clinic Rochester.
SUBJECTS: Sixteen ICU physicians, 12 ICU nurses, and 12 interpreters.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: We conducted 40 semistructured interviews. We identified six key differences in end-of-life decision-making for patients with limited English proficiency compared with patients without limited English proficiency: 1) clinician communication is modified and less frequent; 2) clinician ability to assess patient and family understanding is impaired; 3) relationship building is impaired; 4) patient and family understanding of decision-making concepts (e.g., palliative care) is impaired; 5) treatment limitations are often perceived to be unacceptable due to faith-based and cultural beliefs; and 6) patient and family decision-making styles are different. Facilitators of high-quality decision-making in patients with limited English proficiency included: 1) premeeting between clinician and interpreter; 2) interpretation that communicates empathy and caring; 3) bidirectional communication of cultural perspectives; 4) interpretation that improves messaging including appropriate word choice; and 5) clinician cultural humility.
CONCLUSIONS: End-of-life decision-making is significantly different for ICU patients with limited English proficiency. Participants identified several barriers and facilitators to high-quality end-of-life decision-making for ICU patients and families with limited English proficiency. Awareness of these factors can facilitate interventions to improve high-quality, compassionate, and culturally sensitive decision-making for patients and families with limited English proficiency.
Palliative care philosophy is based on a holistic approach to patients, but research shows that possibilities for living up to this philosophy seem limited by historical and administrative structures. From the nurse perspective, this article aims to explore nursing practice in specialised palliative homecare, and how it is influenced by organisational and cultural structures. Qualitative, semi-structured interviews with nine nurses were conducted, inspired by Bourdieu. The findings showed that nurses consolidate the doxa of medicine, including medical-professional values that configure a control-oriented, positivistic approach, supported by the organising policy for clinical practice. Hierarchically, nurses were positioned under doctors: medical rounds functioned as a structuring structure for their working day. They acted as medical assistants, and the prevailing medical logic seemed to make it difficult for nurses to meet their own humanistic ideals. Only short time slots allowed nurses to prioritise psychosocial needs of patients and relatives. Point-of-actions had high priority, added financial resources and ensured that budgets were allocated. Weekly visits made it possible for nurses to measure, control and govern patients' drugs and symptoms which was a necessity for their function as medical assistants. The findings challenge nurses to take on an ethical point of view, partly to ensure that patients and their families receive good palliative care focusing on more than medical issues and logic, and partly to strengthen the nurses' profession in the palliative field and help them implement palliative care philosophy in practice.
Ever since medical assistance in dying (MAID) became legal in Canada in 2016, controversy has enveloped the refusal by many faith-based institutions to allow this service on their premises. In a recent article in this journal, Philip and Joshua Shadd have proposed 'changing the conversation' on this issue, reframing it as an exercise not of conscience but of an institutional right of self-governance. This reframing, they claim, will serve to show how health-care institutions may be justified in refusing to provide MAID on moral or religious grounds. I argue that it will not make it easier to justify institutional refusal, and is likely to make it harder.
AIM: The purpose of the present study was to collate examples of end-of-life care guidelines from various counties, examine their contents, and gain an overall picture of how end-of-life care guidance is offered to physicians and care providers internationally.
METHODS: In this study, eight researchers worked independently to source and examine national-level end-of-life care guidelines from different countries and regions. Data collected by each researcher were gathered into a unified table. The items in the table included basic information (publisher, year, URL etc.) and more specific items, such as the presence/absence of legal information and family's role in decision-making. These data were then used to identify trends, and examine the mechanics and delivery of guidance on this topic.
RESULTS: A total of 54 guidelines were included in the study. All the guidelines were published between 2000 and 2016, and 60% (n = 33) were published after 2012. The length of the guidelines varied from two to 487 pages (median 38 pages), and had different target audiences - both lay and professional. A total of 38 (70%) of the guidelines included information about the relevant laws and legal issues, 47 (87%) offered advice on withholding and withdrawing treatment, 46 (85%) discussed the family's role in decision-making and 46 (85%) emphasized the teamwork aspect of care.
CONCLUSIONS: The present findings show that end-of-life care guidelines are generally made reactively in response to the trend toward patient-centered care, and that to create effective guidelines and implement them requires multilevel cooperation between governmental bodies, healthcare teams, and patients and their families.
OBJECTIVES: Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a serious illness with disabling acute and chronic pain that needs better therapies, but insufficient patient participation in research is a major impediment to advancing SCD pain management. The purpose of this article is to discuss the challenges of conducting an SCD study and approaches to successfully overcoming those challenges.
DESIGN: In a repeated-measures, longitudinal study designed to characterize SCD pain phenotypes, we recruited 311 adults of African ancestry. Adults with SCD completed 4 study visits 6 months apart, and age- and gender-matched healthy controls completed 1 visit.
RESULTS: We recruited and completed measures on 186 patients with SCD and 125 healthy controls. We retained 151 patients with SCD with data at 4 time points over 18 months and 125 healthy controls (1 time point) but encountered many challenges in recruitment and study visit completion. Enrollment delays often arose from patients' difficulty in taking time from their complicated lives and frequent pain episodes. Once scheduled, participants with SCD cancelled 49% of visits often because of pain; controls canceled 30% of their scheduled visits. To facilitate recruitment and retention, we implemented a number of strategies that were invaluable in our success.
CONCLUSION: Patients' struggles with illness, chronic pain, and their life situations resulted in many challenges to recruitment and completion of study visits. Important to overcoming challenges was gaining the trust of patients with SCD and a participant-centered approach. Early identification of potential problems allowed strategies to be instituted proactively, leading to success.
Background: Third-degree atrioventricular (AV) block can result in sudden cardiac death if no reliable escape rhythm is present. Here, we report a case of an 86-year-old female patient who developed a third-degree AV block leading to cardiac arrest. Surprisingly, sinus rhythm returned after 4 min of asystole, and she showed complete neurological recovery.
Case summary: Emergency services were contacted by the husband of an 86-year-old woman after she was found unconscious. Ambulance personnel diagnosed a third-degree AV block without an escape rhythm and transcutaneous pacing was started. At arrival on the emergency ward, pacing was inadequate, resulting in absence of circulation for ~10 min. After consultation with the family, the patient turned out to have signed a ‘do not resuscitate’ order. Given the impression that the considerable delay deemed favourable neurological recovery unlikely, it was decided together with the family to stop the resuscitation. Subsequently, she had an intermittent junctional escape rhythm but eventually developed a documented asystole of more than 4 min. Against all expectations, she regained sinus rhythm and fully recovered. Eventually, a pacemaker was implanted and she was discharged home without neurological sequalae of the cardiac arrest.
Discussion: Autoresuscitation, also known as the Lazarus syndrome, is the spontaneous return of circulation after cardiac arrest and is incidentally seen after failed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Autoresuscitation in the absence of CPR is highly unusual, but could, in this case, be due to the total AV block as the cause of the cardiac arrest.
GPs should do more to help patients plan for their care and treatment because of a lack of awareness about advance decisions, says a report from the charity Compassion in Dying.
Advance decisions are documents that allow people to state in what circumstances they would want to refuse future treatment if they become seriously ill and cannot make or convey such decisions. Formerly known as “living wills,” advance decisions gained legal status in 2005.
The objective of this study was to explore nurses' perceptions of end-of-life care following the withdrawal of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP). Thirteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with nurses working in palliative care. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Three themes emerged: perceptions of the LCP, prevailing issues, and patients' and families' experiences. This study suggested that the removal of the pathway has not remedied the issues attributed to it. Further, the way in which the LCP was removed indicates that the non-expert media can play a negative role in how palliative care is perceived, which inhibits the care process. In this respect it is important that 'insider' voices are also heard, in order to educate and also redress disinformation. Similarly, broader, persisting, contextual challenges facing staff need addressing in order to prevent a repeat of the issues leading to the removal of the LCP.
BACKGROUND: To determine the validity, reliability and acceptability of the Mandarin Chinese version of the Problems and Needs in Palliative Care questionnaire-short version (PNPC-sv) for measuring problems and palliative care needs among patients with advanced cancer.
METHODS: This was a validation study using a forward- and backward- translation procedure, a panel of experts and a cross-sectional study design. The Mandarin Chinese version of the PNPC-sv was translated by four independent translators. The translated Chinese version was further reviewed by an expert panel to identify its content validity. A pilot test was conducted in 10 advanced cancer patients to preliminarily assess the face validity, readability and clarity of the pre-final version of the PNPC-sv. 178 patients with advanced cancer, regardless of their gender and types of cancer diagnosis, were further recruited through a convenience sampling from three tertiary hospitals in China to assess the psychometric properties of the PNPC-sv Mandarin Chinese version. Content validity was measured using the content validity index (CVI). Construct validity was estimated via confirmatory factor analysis and the contrasted groups approach. Concurrent validity was identified by analysing the correlations between the EORTC Quality-of-Life Questionnaire-Core 30 (EORTC QLQ-C30) and the PNPC-sv. Reliability of the PNPC-sv was examined with the internal consistency reliability and item-to-total correlations. Several closed-ended and open-ended questions were designed to explore its acceptability.
RESULTS: 174 patients completed the questionnaires. High content and face validity were determined after the two rounds of assessment with the expert panel and the patients. An excellent CVI of 1.0 was achieved and patients rated the PNPC-sv as a useful instrument for assessing their problems and needs (mean score = 7.99, 0–10 scale) and reported the items were not particularly sensitive and easy to understand. The majority of the fit indexes meet the critical criteria, with the Chi-square divided by degrees of freedom (x2/df) being 1.58 and 2.05, and the root mean squared error of approximation (RMSEA) being 0.06 and 0.07 for the problem part and need-for-care part, respectively. In relation to the contrasted groups analysis, it clearly discriminated the differences on the sub-scores of Activities of Daily Life (ADL), spiritual and psychological problems and needs between male and female patients; ADL, physical, social and financial problems and needs between age groups; and autonomic problems and needs between patients with different cancer stages. Statistically significant correlations (p < 0.05) were detected between the PNPC-sv and the EORTC QLQ-C30 in the majority of the sub-scores (positive correlations) and total scores (negative correlations). The Cronbach’s alpha of the total scale was 0.88 and 0.91 for the problem part and need-for-care part, respectively. The Cronbach’s alpha of the subscales were generally above 0.70. Item-to-total correlations were generally acceptable, with the majority of the values being above 0.40. The PNPC-sv questionnaire was reported to be convenient and easy to understand, and the average time for completing was 11 min.
CONCLUSIONS: The Mandarin Chinese version of the PNPC-sv is a valid, reliable and user-friendly instrument for measuring problems and palliative care needs among patients with advanced cancer. Further research is needed to further examine its psychometric properties particular internal structure in a larger patient sample.
OBJECTIVES: On 19 June 2019, assisted dying became lawful in Victoria, the second most populous state in Australia. Section 8 of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act is a legislative safeguard that is designed to ensure a patient's request for assistance to die is voluntary. This section prohibits health practitioners from initiating a conversation about assisted dying with the patient. This article explores the potential implications of this prohibition for effective communication between doctors and their patients, and the ability of doctors to provide high quality end-of-life (EOL) care in some cases.
METHOD: The authors reviewed and analysed literature on the importance of communication at the EOL including the need to understand and appropriately respond to Desire to Die or Desire to Hasten Death statements. A legal critique of section 8 of the Victorian Voluntary Assisted Dying Act was also undertaken to determine the scope of this new duty and how it aligns with existing legal obligations that would otherwise require doctors to provide information about EOL options requested by a patient.
RESULTS: Contemporary literature suggests that open and honest communication between doctor and patient including the provision of information about all EOL options when sought by the patient represents good clinical practice and will lead to optimal EOL care. The provision of such information also reflects professional, ethical and legal norms.
CONCLUSION: Despite (arguably) promoting an appropriate policy objective, the legislative prohibition on health professionals initiating conversations about voluntary assisted dying may, in cases where patients seek information about all EOL options, lead to less optimal patient outcomes.
BACKGROUND: Good communication with the family is a clinical imperative for high quality end-of-life (EOL) care in intensive care unit (ICU). Many interventions aim to improve EOL communication, and the choice of an outcome instrument has important implications for evaluating interventions. The purpose of this project is to search and review available instruments' psychometric properties and determine which best measures family-clinician communication in the ICU.
METHOD: A stepwise method was used by searching 2 databases (PsycInfo and Web of Science) to identify instruments and articles that provide information about scale psychometric properties.
INSTRUMENTS: Three instruments were identified, including Family Inpatient Communication Survey, Family Perception of Physician-Family Caregiver Communication, and Quality of Communication (QOC).
RESULTS: Reliability estimates were high (= 0.79) in all 3 instruments. The QOC’s convergent validity estimates exceed its discriminant validity values, and the QOC is an intervention-sensitive measure used to examine families’ treatment response in randomized control trials.
CONCLUSION: Quality of Communication is the most suitable instrument to measure family's perceptions of EOL communication in the ICU. Quality of Communication scores provide a deeper understanding of family-clinician communication and data about how to improve EOL care in ICUs.
PURPOSE: Although patients with advanced cancer report poor sleep quality, few studies have assessed sleep quality with a combination of subjective and objective measures. We aimed to examine sleep quality in hospitalized patients with advanced cancer by combining patient-reported outcome-measures (PROMs) and polysomnography (PSG) or actigraphy.
METHODS: A one-night prospective observational study of sleep in hospitalized patients with metastatic cancer using WHO step III opioids was conducted. Total sleep time, sleep onset latency, number of awakenings, and wake after sleep onset were assessed by PROMs and actigraphy. Sleep quality was assessed by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) (range; 0-21), where higher scores indicate worse sleep quality.
RESULTS: Forty patients were monitored. Median age was 70, median oral morphine equivalent dose was 80 mg/24 h (10–1725), median Karnofsky Performance Score was 50 (20–90), and median time to death from inclusion was 38 days (4–319). Mean PSQI score was 6.5 (SD ± 3.4). PROMs and actigraphy of mean (SD) sleep onset latency were 46 (± 64) and 35 min (± 61), respectively, while mean time awake at night was 37 (± 35) and 40 min (± 21). PROMs and actigraphy differed on number of awakenings (mean 2 (± 1) vs. 24 (± 15), p 0.001). Bland-Altman plots showed large individual differences between PROMs and actigraphy. PSG was not feasible.
CONCLUSIONS: PROMs and actigraphy documented poor sleep quality, but a lack of agreement across methods. The study demonstrates a need to improve assessment of sleep quality and treatment of sleep disturbance in hospitalized patients with advanced cancer near end of life.
This study explores the nature of a therapeutic recreation-based bereavement camp for families whose child has died from serious illness. Open-ended surveys and interviews were conducted with parents attending a three-camp cycle over a 12-month period or a reunion camp. Thirteen parents completed open-ended surveys before and after each camp and six of these also completed interviews after the final camp. Six additional parents completed interviews after the reunion camp. Six staff working with families during the camps were also interviewed. Content analysis of surveys and thematic analysis of interviews revealed the aims, structure, and content of the camp. The findings suggest a model whereby shared experience allows for normalization and offers a nonjudgmental place to share stories, discuss difficulties come together as a family, and create a support network. These findings highlight the value of therapeutic recreation-based bereavement interventions for families whose child has died from serious illness.
BACKGROUND: Pain is one of the most common symptoms that has a severe impact on quality of life and is associated with numerous psychosocial issues in cancer patients. Palliative care, which is a recent development in China, mainly focuses on symptom control and provides psychosocial support in order to improve quality of life for terminally ill patients. This meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the effects of palliative care on cancer pain in China.
METHODS: The four most comprehensive Chinese academic databases-CNKI, Wanfang, Vip and CBM-were searched from their inception until July 2019. Medline/PubMed, Web of Science, EBSCO and internet search (Google and Google Scholar) were also searched. Randomized controlled studies assessing the effects of palliative care on cancer pain were analyzed. The pooled random-effect estimates of standardized mean difference (SMD) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated. Subgroup analysis was conducted by moderating factors for heterogeneity.
RESULTS: The present meta-analysis included 18 studies with a total of 1370 patients. The random-effect model showed a significant effect size of palliative care on cancer pain (SMD = 1.475, p < 0.001; 95% CI = 1.071–1.878). Age, pharmacological/non-pharmacological strategies and publication date could account for the heterogeneity through subgroup analysis to some extent.
CONCLUSIONS: Palliative care was largely effective for relieving pain among Chinese adults with cancer, indicating that an adequate system should be urgently established to provide palliative care for cancer patients in Chinese medical settings. However, given the extent of heterogeneity, our findings should be interpreted cautiously.
BACKGROUND: Study findings show that although palliative care decreases symptom burden, it is still underused in patients with ESKD. Little is known about disparity in use of palliative care services in such patients in the inpatient setting.
METHODS: To investigate the use of palliative care consultation in patients with ESKD in the inpatient setting, we conducted a retrospective cohort study using the National Inpatient Sample from 2006 to 2014 to identify admitted patients with ESKD requiring maintenance dialysis. We compared palliative care use among minority groups (black, Hispanic, and Asian) and white patients, adjusting for patient and hospital variables.
RESULTS: We identified 5,230,865 hospitalizations of such patients from 2006 through 2014, of which 76,659 (1.5%) involved palliative care. The palliative care referral rate increased significantly, from 0.24% in 2006 to 2.70% in 2014 (P<0.01). Black and Hispanic patients were significantly less likely than white patients to receive palliative care services (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.72; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.61 to 0.84, P<0.01 for blacks and aOR, 0.46; 95% CI, 0.30 to 0.68, P<0.01 for Hispanics). These disparities spanned across all hospital subtypes, including those with higher proportions of minorities. Minority patients with lower socioeconomic status (lower level of income and nonprivate health insurance) were also less likely to receive palliative care.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite a clear increase during the study period in provision of palliative care for inpatients with ESKD, significant racial disparities occurred and persisted across all hospital subtypes. Further investigation into causes of racial and ethnic disparities is necessary to improve access to palliative care services for the vulnerable ESKD population.
Since 2002, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has provided a unique training opportunity in palliative care at six VA medical centers. The VA Interprofessional Fellowship in Palliative Care has trained chaplains, nurses, pharmacists, physicians, psychologists, and social workers to provide clinical palliative care and to develop as leaders in the profession. This article describes the program's origin, mission, outcomes, and lessons learned.